Hwange reinstates workers

HWANGE - Coal miner Hwange Colliery Company Ltd (HCCL) has reinstated more than 200 of its retrenched workers after failing to settle a $6,4 million bill in retrenchment packages.

HCCL is reported to have retrenched about 204 workers in June this year, in a move that was meant to cut soaring operational costs.

According to the retrenchment letter in possession of businessdaily written by the company human resource manager Fati Mpofu, the affected workers were instructed to stop reporting for duty with effect from June 8 this year.

The laid off workers were drawn from various departments.

The coal miner was quoted in some sections of the media saying the retrenchment exercise was a result of a recently adopted Enterprising Resource Planning (ERP), the computerisation exercise to all its departments.

As a result, the organisation was compelled to reduce operational costs by cutting down the number of workers to avoid work duplication in the presence of the new technology.

Before the installation of the ERP it is understood that a selected number of workers were chosen to undergo a training programme on how to operate the system amid allegations that even some of those who were trained, fell victim to the restructuring exercise.

“Our contracts were terminated, but the company reverted to giving us monthly salaries. We were reinstated on the pay roll, yet the company was supposed to pay us our retrenchment packages,” said one of the affected workers who preferred anonymity.

“The agreement was that we get our packages by end of September this year but as it seems the company failed to do so thereby opting to return us on the payroll.

As I am speaking I have just received my (October) salary but surprisingly my contract was terminated and I am no longer employed. So which is which here?,” asked another disgruntled former employee.

Sources close to the developments said the company was opting for the monthly salary scheme for the affected workers to circumvent the negative impact it will have on the company’s end of year financial statement.

To that end, the company has reportedly resolved to deliberate on the retrenchment bill on the onset of a new financial year (2013).

Other workers expressed their dismay at the organisation’s “heartless” decision to retrench some workers who are almost at the retirement age.

To effect the new system, the coal miner is said to have first initiated a test run to ascertain its efficiency before the resultant retrenchments.

The latest development comes as the company has been battling to pay its 3 200 workers on time, resulting in payment being made in batches, according to grades and on varying dates.

“Two hundred workers were identified for retrenchment but the termination of their employment will be made in January, that’s when we are going to also pay their packages,” acting managing director Stanford Ndlovu said.

“With regards to salaries, we have had cash flow problems but that has been addressed,” he said.

HCCL is 37 percent owned by the government while Messina Investments, owned by businessman Nick Van Hoogstraten holds a 26 percent stake. - Jeffrey Muvundusi and Nyasha Chingono

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